Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artist: Noah Hayes
Colorist: Rebecca Nalty
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 7th November 2018
Originally released back in 2001, Wet Hot American Summer was a somewhat divisive parody movie set in a debauched and ever so slightly out of control summer camp called Camp Firewood. It drew a mixture of frothing “cult classic” enthusiasm and nose-thumbing disdain on its release, but the loyal fanbase support was enough for it to spawn a Netflix-exclusive “Ten Years Later” series back in 2017, which drew some similarly mixed reviews.
Now the franchise is branching out in the world of comics, with an original graphic novel from writer Christopher Hastings (Deadpool) and artist Noah Hayes (Goldie Vance) on sale now from BOOM! Studios. The story sees the increasingly wild antics of the Camp Firewood counsellors triggering a surprise camp inspection, and the team being given 24 hours to clean up their act before the whole place gets shut down. It’s your typical ‘80s/’90s summer camp movie fare, albeit with a slightly more raunchy and profanity-laced approach, which is essentially the main appeal of the live-action source material.
With that in mind, it’s probably worth pointing out that while this may look like the latest in a long line of all-ages offerings from BOOM!, it’s actually pitched firmly at mature readers. There’s nothing too outrageous or over-the-line, but there is a steady stream of profanity and adult themes and humour which belies Hayes’ and Rebecca Nalty’s colourful, cartoony visuals.
Hastings shows off a great sense of humour throughout with some amusing, if a little broad, dialogue and a faithful recreation of the familiar cast of characters (including the likes of Janeane Garofalo, Amy Poehler and Elizabeth Banks), an approach which is echoed by Hayes’ recognisable character designs. Both creators are clearly having a blast, and from the wacky situations Hastings comes up with to the exaggerated, caricatured expressions and reactions from Hayes, this definitely does a good job of capturing the madcap tone of the source material.
Cards on the table, this feels like it’s aimed firmly at existing fans of the show, and while I have seen the original movie (and half of the Netflix series), I definitely wouldn’t class myself as a “fan”, per se. I’m not sure if someone who wasn’t already familiar with the movie and Netflix series would even consider picking this up in the first place, and in that respect the graphic novel certainly delivers, providing all manner of fan service and knowing nods to the history of the franchise.
Things resolve themselves in fairly predictable fashion, but while there are definitely some chuckle-worthy moments along the way, the comic delivery doesn’t quite land as well as its live-action counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, Hastings and Hayes do a solid job throughout, but while the movie and television show were both definitely a little hit-or-miss at times, this comic book version feels like a little more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’, sadly.
That said, at the end of the day this nothing less than a faithful continuation of the live-action source material, and delivers some colourful, bawdy fun that fans of the movie and Netflix TV series will definitely get a real kick out of.